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Rhode Island State Archives to Display Declaration of Independence During Special Holiday Hours

PROVIDENCE, RI Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore and the Rhode Island State Archives today announced that the State Archives will be open for special Independence Day hours on July 4 so that the public can view Rhode Island's three copies of the Declaration of Independence.

"As we look forward to parades and gatherings with family and friends on Independence Day, I encourage Rhode Islanders to take a moment to visit the State Archives and see the document that is the reason for the holiday," said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. "Rhode Island is fortunate to have three magnificent copies of the Declaration of Independence, and it is a special experience to see them up close and in person."

From 10 a.m. until noon on July 4, the State Archives will display its three versions of the Declaration of Independence: the Southwick Printing (1776), the Goddard Printing (1777), and the Stone Printing (1823).

The Declaration of Independence was first printed in the Philadelphia print shop of John Dunlap on the evening of July 4, 1776, after being approved by Congress earlier in the day. The exact number of broadsides produced by Dunlap is unknown, but estimates put the number at about two hundred. On July 6, 1776, a copy was forwarded to Governor Nicholas Cooke of Rhode Island. On July 12, 1776, Solomon Southwick, printer for the Newport Mercury, received payment for reproducing 29 copies for distribution to the various town clerks. In January 1777, a second printing of the Declaration was authorized and given to Connecticut native and printer Mary Katharine Goddard of Baltimore (1738 1816). The second printing is significant as it made public for the first time the names of each signer. The William J. Stone engravings of the Declaration of Independence were ordered by the United States Department of State and through a joint resolution of Congress. Two hundred printings were authorized for distribution among surviving signers, government officials and departments, institutions of higher learning, and other similar groups.

The State Archives is home to more than 10 million letters, photographs, and important state documents that form a permanent, tangible record of Rhode Island's rich history. Visitors to the Archives can access vital records, census data, historical manuscripts and documents, and more. Many artifacts and documents have also been digitized and are available in the State Archives online catalog at https://catalog.sos.ri.gov/ and Digital Archives. To learn more about the State Archives, visit https://www.sos.ri.gov/divisions/state-archives.

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Related links

  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
  • Online: http://www.sos.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 07-01-2024

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